I picked up Blink & Caution expecting to read an adventure story by acclaimed Canadian author Tim Wynne-Jones. What I got was an engrossing and suspenseful young adult novel (that could easily be read and enjoyed by an adult).
The story is told from alternating perspectives: first we meet sixteen-year-old Blink (Brendan), homeless and living on the streets. Blink is looking for his next breakfast in a fancy hotel when he witnesses a suspicious event, possibly a kidnapping. Next there is Caution (Kitty), a runaway who has committed murder–or at least that’s how she puts it. Both characters are fighting to survive.
At the hotel, Blink picks up the cell phone and wallet of a man who seemed to willingly walk away with his captors, and begins to communicate with the daughter of the victim, who becomes more and more insistent that Blink help her find her father. Caution flees from her dangerous boyfriend, Merlin, when she begins to suspect that he has been unfaithful. Their lives in danger, Blink and Caution set out on separate paths to try to change their circumstances for the better.
The teenagers’ histories are very sad: Blink has been abused and kicked out by an awful stepfather, and Caution has left home after a terrible accident. Despite their dire circumstances, the two are immediately recognizable as good-hearted young people. This is what makes Blink & Caution so gripping: I was totally invested in finding out what was going to happen to them.
For a while, Blink and Caution do not know that the other person exists. As a reader, I found myself wondering if the two would find one another, and dreading the outcome if they did. When Blink is pulled even deeper into the kidnapping, I was actually holding my breath. This story has a tense, desperate atmosphere; Tim Wynne-Jones has written a nerve-wracking story about two kids that you really want to be safe. The writing from both perspectives provides an interesting glimpse into the minds of the characters. It’s hard to explain, but there is a sense of “realness” about the book that makes it stand out. I could feel myself watching the two, as if they were in a shadowy suspense film. I felt for the characters, but the storyline was what really drew me in. This one is a page turner, and I recommend it for older teens (as it does deal with some heavier subject matter).
Don’t take it from me: Blink & Caution also won the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Children’s Literature in 2011.